Wednesday, September 2, 2009

seriously romantic: a few old favorites

i've been reading a lot lately. my dvr will attest to this, i have over a month of "general hospital" episodes, almost the entirety of season two of "true blood" [there are only two episodes left], and well, i still haven't watched the finales of "dollhouse" or "fringe" [and i really like these shows, well excluding "general hospital" which i love to hate or something like that]. so anyway, i've been reading a lot lately and viewing nothing at all and i keep feeling like i have nothing to write about except with the ten+ books a week i've been reading i have plenty to review.

i want to adhere to a more frequent posting schedule, and once fall tv kicks up i hope to get back to a regular routine. but in any case here are a few of my favorite romance/chick lit reads:

1. something borrowed by emily giffin
i know girls who hated this book. they couldn't get past the fact that the main character, rachel, sleeps with her best friend's fiancé, dex. and though i understand that reaction, the fact that rachel isn't perfect, that she and dex do selfish and hurtful things, that the love story as it develops in this story is far from ideal, are all reasons why i absolutely love this book.
rachel, who is the book's narrator, doesn't shy away from acknowledging that she is trying to justify the unjustifiable. she recognizes that she is not being a good person. but she is also incredibly sympathetic, and as you read the novel you are so very clearly on her side. but darcy, the best friend, isn't completely unsympathetic.
her flaws may be played up more during the course of the story, but there are reasons she and rachel are friends and if she isn't simply a terrible human being who deserved to get cheated on, neither is she so totally and completely innocent of wrong-doing. we get to see her side of things in the follow-up to this, something blue.
me, i like shades of gray. the murkier the better. my sister-in-law could never read this and be okay with rachel's actions, because she has been cheated on one too many times, that to even consider this happening to her with her best friend would be devastating. but i think it would be too easy to say that rachel and dex are in the wrong, that isn't the story being told here. the story is that love can be found at the most inconvenient times, in the most inconvenient places, and when these things happen, you have to make a choice. and sometimes following love is the selfish choice, but it is also the correct one.
i can't say how many times i've reread this book. it's one of my favorite plane reads. i also happen to love the book design, i think all books should be so well-designed.

2. devil in winter by lisa kleypas
i don't know what it is about sebastian and evie, but i love their story. this is another book that i've started re-reading as soon as i finished.
we first meet sebastian in it happened one autumn, where he plays the dramatic foil to marcus, earl of westcliff. our last glimpse of sebastian in the closing moments of that novel, he has been beaten up by westcliff for nearly raping lillian. needless to say that in the opening moments of devil in winter you are surprised by the fact that he seems to be the hero of the tale.
but what a hero he is. devil in winter is a story of redemption. even though the series is focused on "the wallflowers" in this book, evie clearly takes a back seat. that isn't to say that she isn't interesting or compelling. in fact, i would say that evie and daisy were my favorite wallflowers, though daisy gets the edge because she's just more vibrant. that's the problem with evie, she's sweet and giving and kind, and not at all vibrant. but her chemistry with sebastian is unbelievable. and amazingly she is the one that melts the ice in his veins.
through evie, sebastian gains a new direction in life. instead of losing himself further in vice, instead of surrendering his soul to waste, sebastian learns that love has a place in his life. what could be more romantic than that?

3. his wicked promise by samantha james

historical novels that take place in medieval times [this one dates to the 13th century] aren't really my favorite, but this is one of those books where i enjoyed the characters and the story so much that it didn't really matter when the book was set. glenda and egan have a spark between them. but glenda, still grieving for her husband and stillborn child, isn't prepared to open her heart to love again. and egan has been in love with glenda since she first arrived to be married to niall mckay.
now that i think about it there are some similarities in theme between this and when he was wicked an old favorite i've talked about several times before. i guess we know what my kind of story is. actually all the books on this list are stories of finding love in complicated, unexpected places and making it work.
that's what egan and glenda do. there are plenty misunderstandings: a marriage of convenience, an unexpected pregnancy, miscreant neighbors, kidnapping. but ultimately, love wins out. and that's all this girl wants to see.

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